# \squiggleJuly 21, 2009 4:50 AM   Subscribe

Detexify is a neat little tool that let's you draw a symbol and then finds the corresponding LaTeX notation. The explanation is an interesting read as well.
posted by swordfishtrombones (38 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

That is the slickest little web app I have seen in months.

Of course, I haven't needed to use LaTeX in more than a decade. Unicode and HTML entities version, please?
posted by rokusan at 5:03 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Drawing doesn't work and "This canvas is fubar :("
posted by DU at 5:03 AM on July 21, 2009

Oh, but old detexify works for me.
posted by DU at 5:06 AM on July 21, 2009

Well, it draws. It doesn't get the right symbol.

I'll shut up now.
posted by DU at 5:06 AM on July 21, 2009

Really, DU? It was three for three on the first three I tried.

(theta, venus and aleph, for the record. I'm weird.)
posted by rokusan at 5:11 AM on July 21, 2009

What a cool tool. Worked every time for me.
posted by handee at 5:12 AM on July 21, 2009

Also nailed mu and ng. Five for five. :)
posted by rokusan at 5:12 AM on July 21, 2009

It's the old one that's flakey for me. I drew a triangle 3 times. The first time, nothing was right. The second time, I got both triangle and delta. The third time, just triangle.

The explanation is interesting. By chance, I happen to have this tab open this morning also, so that was weird.
posted by DU at 5:14 AM on July 21, 2009

Apparently the corresponding notation for a cock and balls is the infinity symbol. Huh.
posted by horsemuth at 5:20 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

Nailed \mathsection and \varointclockwise. I like it.
posted by King Bee at 5:25 AM on July 21, 2009

It's converting to TeX: shouldn't it be called TeXify rather than DeTeXify?

That said it works very well. It succeeded on most of my tests, but failed on ξ. Admittedly this is probably more to do with my terrible handwriting (and even worse "mousewriting") than anything else - my written ξ's have always tended to look like some kind of demented spring in the throes of hideous torture.
posted by Electric Dragon at 6:05 AM on July 21, 2009

horsemuth: this is because the human desire to draw a cock and balls is transcendent and timeless, it could well be our only verifiable proof of the infinite.
posted by idiopath at 6:23 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

How very cool but completely useless. :)
posted by twine42 at 6:34 AM on July 21, 2009

This is great! I can't remember how many times I've looked up things like \partial and \mapsto.
posted by albrecht at 6:39 AM on July 21, 2009

It's converting to TeX: shouldn't it be called TeXify rather than DeTeXify?

I thought it was supposed to be a play on the word "detect" (which I guess works whether you pronounce TeX as "tek" or "tex").
posted by mathlete at 6:56 AM on July 21, 2009

That's very cool. I wish I still needed to write something in LaTeX.
posted by chunking express at 7:01 AM on July 21, 2009

Metafilter: very cool but completely useless. :)

Also: maybe it was my abysmal drawing skills, but I couldn't get it to spit out a currency symbol for the British pound for the life of me ...
posted by kcds at 7:02 AM on July 21, 2009

Apparently the corresponding notation for a cock and balls is the infinity symbol. Huh.

posted by nebulawindphone at 7:13 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Is there no way to make an application like this work on the iPhone? After lots of poking and dragging I only managed to get a single pixel to light up. There ought to be a flag that says 'for this page, interpret movement as click and drag rather than scrolling.'
posted by jedicus at 7:14 AM on July 21, 2009

Hmm... it didn't recognize my drawing of \thinspace.
posted by ijoshua at 7:33 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

cock and balls = /Shilling
posted by Xoebe at 7:43 AM on July 21, 2009

Five quid, same as in town.
posted by rokusan at 7:53 AM on July 21, 2009

That's very cool. I wish I still needed to write something in LaTeX.

I hadn't written anything in LaTeX since finishing my last paper in grad school two years ago, but the ability to do so turned out incredibly handy in a way I never would have anticipated.

Two very good friends of mine were the first couple to be married in zero-g. I couldn't attend, but I wanted to at least send them a card. After browsing through one insufferable lacy white/cream/power blue piece of overpriced stationery after another, I realized I was going about it all wrong.

I wound up buying a ridiculous pop-up card with all kinds of crazy rockets and planets and stuff. It was originally a birthday card, but I masked out the birthday caption and started thinking about what to put in there.

What I finally decided on pasting in was the rocket thrust equation, after reteaching myself LaTeX math mode. I put in a brief explanation of the terms of the expression, and I have to say it looked really nice, all typeset in Computer Modern.

So the moral of the story is: You never know when you're going to need to pick out just the right math for a greeting card, in which case this tool will come in quite handy.

Also, you can always find an excuse to use LaTeX if you look hard enough.
posted by pts at 7:57 AM on July 21, 2009 [8 favorites]

My Jackie Treehorn homage is apparently worth two smileys and an e-commerce.
posted by rokusan at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2009

I like the idea, but this won't be useful to me until I can write out a full formula and have it spit out the relevant tex. Then it would be very useful, as I just got a shiny new tablet.
posted by nat at 8:26 AM on July 21, 2009

This is freakin' awesome. sayeth the math grad student.

And what's this stuff about LaTeX being useless? LaTeX is incredibly cool. Not least because it was invented in the 70's by Knuth himself. You know, of RSK fame. Which says that there's a bijection between permutations of n things and pairs of standard Young Tableaux, more or less the first huge result in algebraic combinatorics. which is my field, and therefore important.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:31 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic. As someone who uses TeX on a daily basis, and often has to go through pages of .pdfs to find symbols, this makes me very excited. It even found /mapsfrom, a symbol that I've been trying to find for a few days (for some reason, /mapsfrom doesn't appear in the references I have . . . .).
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:52 AM on July 21, 2009

very cool tool - thanks
posted by sloe at 10:44 AM on July 21, 2009

This is actually pretty useful for me. Not because I use LaTeX but because I can't remember my all my Greek letters anymore.
posted by chairface at 10:49 AM on July 21, 2009

Failed for both \lfloor and \lceil, neither of which were even in the "full" list, even though \llfloor and \\llceil were. :(
posted by elbie at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2009

YES. Oh man, this makes me a very, very happy grad student.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2009

This reminds me of JIMHR & FFES, though I could never get it to compile.
posted by Monochrome at 2:56 PM on July 21, 2009

Its third guess for my drawing of a cock and balls was \male. I'm impressed!
posted by jewzilla at 4:30 PM on July 21, 2009

Latex has a class called Beamer aka Powerpoint Done Right. Inkscape has a nice palette for it. See also Till Tantau's PGF/TikZ.
posted by yegga at 6:20 PM on July 21, 2009

Very cool. It didn't recognize Ш (Cyrillic shah, used sometimes to represent a train of dirac impulses) but maybe CMR doesn't contain it?
posted by hattifattener at 11:05 PM on July 21, 2009

so Ш for a dirac pulse train, is that some kind of visual onomatopoeia?
posted by idiopath at 3:23 AM on July 22, 2009

Pretty much, yeah.
posted by hattifattener at 1:13 AM on July 23, 2009